‘They Will Kill Me’ Saudi Woman Seeks Asylum After Fleeing Family to Thailand

Thailand – A Saudi woman barricaded herself inside a Bangkok airport hotel room to prevent being expelled by the Thai government. She has now left the airport after talks with representatives of the UN refugee agency.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, an 18-year-old who fled her family and has been at Bangkok’s airport since she arrived from Kuwait, saying she fears her family will kill her if she is forced to return home. Her relatives have not commented on her accusations.

The case draws attention to Saudi Arabia’s strict social rules, including a law requiring that women have permission of a male “guardian” to travel, a law that can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

It comes at a time when the backward desert Kingdom is facing unusually intense scrutiny from governments, like the US, who had once strongly supported or overlooked the violence in Saudi Arabia.

Thai officials planned on putting Qunun on a flight back to Kuwait, but relented after her story drew international attention and support online.

A representative of the UN met her at the airport and discussed the case with Thai officials. Thailand’s head immigration official said she would not be sent back to Kuwait.



Photos from the top: “Suvarnabhumi Airport Terminal (2007-03-663)” by Vyacheslav Argenberg is licensed under CC BY 2.0 and photo of Rahaf Al-Qunun Mohammed is via Facebook